My Day Job

They announced our 3rd quarter results last week . Things are not going in the right direction. Headcount reductions are happening. Does this mean that I will be a free agent by the end of the year…who knows? But being the good boy scout that I am, my motto is be prepared. So if you, or someone you know, is looking for an Enterprise 2.0 Practitioner, let me know, I am open to looking at opportunities.

Check here for my details.

FLATNESSES

Dion Hinchcliffe has just posted State of the Enterprise 2.0. Absolutely worth reading. He reviews the lessons learned in the Enterprise 2.0 world in the past 12 months since Andrew McAfee proposed this definition. Hinchcliffe provides 7 specific lessons learned:

  • Lesson #1: Enterprise 2.0 is going to happen in your organization with you or without you.
  • Lesson #2: Effective Enterprise 2.0 seems to involve more than just blogs and wikis.
  • Lesson #3: Enterprise 2.0 is more a state of mind than a product you can purchase.
  • Lesson #4: Most businesses still need to educate their workers on the techniques and best practices of Enterprise 2.0 and social media.
  • Lesson #5: The benefits of Enterprise 2.0 can be dramatic, but only builds steadily over time.
  • Lesson #6: Enterprise 2.0 doesn’t seem to put older IT systems out of business.
  • Lesson #7: Your organization will begin to change in new ways because of Enterprise 2.0. Be ready.

He also proposes an extension of McAfee’s orignial SLATES mnemonic:

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Hinchcliffe’s update includes the concepts of Freeform, Social and Emergence:

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I agree that E2.0 is more about a way of working than about technology per se, and that it is not a replacement for existing technology or processes. The existing paradigm of enterprise process and technology will continue to meet many needs of the organization, we just need to open our minds and let the new way of working improve the processes that do not work well now.

Back Door Adoption of Web 2.0 in the Enterprise

Steve Rubel posted an interesting commentary, clearly directed at corporate IT management. He points out part of the reason why adpotion of Web 2.0 practices in the enterprise is slow to happen:

Unfortunately for corporate IT, however, they will find that they can’t move as fast as Web 2.0 does. Talent isn’t the issue here. IT inertia, long-term vendor agreements, the law and Sarbanes Oxley are all weights that can shackle corporations.

This is definitely true, but I am not so sure that back door adoption will happen as inevitability as he suggests.

 …a more free spirited workforce is using what’s freely available to them because it fills a void. With this, information is flowing into data caverns that only the employee – and really no one else – controls.

The reason being the rules and policies that most enterprises have in place. If IT (and corporate) management are serious about controlling where information resides, they have the tools in hand to make it happen, namely disciplinary policies and reward & recognition. I am not saying that I like it or think that is the way it should be, but that is the way it is in many orgainzations. Yes, technically, I can access all of these great tools, but if doing so is a career limiting move, I am going to think twice about doing so.

 I think the inevitable outcome is that the best and brightest that are now coming into the job market will choose to steer clear of organizations that value control over choice. Change will occur over time, not because the “controlling” enterprises will change their ways, but because they will become anachronistic and fade away and new organizations will take their place.

1%ers, 10%ers & 90%ers

One of the main things I am working on now is, how to change cultural and behavioral norms to improve process and productivity. Of course my hammer for attacking this “nail” is Enterprise 2.0. I believe that the tools of E2.0 will be great productivity enhancers and innovation drivers, but I am one of the “1%ers”, those that play with the shiny new toys just for the promise of things to come.

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The problem is how to get from “I think this is great” to “Everyone is using it”? My approach so far has been a bit random, tell everyone that will slow down long enough to listen and assume that they will immediately agree and change their old-fashioned ways. … You know what, it’s not that easy. … Now don’t get me wrong, I have had successes, but not to the level I had hoped for 10 months ago.

I am beginning to figure out that my job is not to try and change everyone’s thinking (let’s refer to “everyone” as the 90%ers) but to find and influence the “10%ers”, those that will try new stuff as long as there seems to be some rational justification for the switch. The job of influencing the 90%ers falls to the 10%ers. If I can show the 10%ers that there is real value then they will spread the word.

The Impact of Social Media

I spent most of today reading (and re-reading) a lot of material about social media while working on a presentation. As I looked back over what I read, I started to rethink, what is the impact of social media on the enterprise. (For clarity, I am using “social media” here to mean the conversation that is occuring outside the firewall.)

The traditional thinking has been (at least my thinking) that social media has leveled the playing field between the underdog consumer and the imperialist corporation, allowing the little guy to fight back.

But now I think that nothing quite so machiavelian is happening. I work in a big company, and I have yet to meet anyone that has designs on taking over the world, or even fooling the customer. For the most part everyone is trying to do the right thing. I think what gets in the way, and is viewed externally so poorly, is just the inherent bureaucracy and friction that exists inside most organizations. It always looks worse from the outside than it does from the inside.

Where this is taking me is transparency. Even though social media is ostensibly an outside the enterprise phenomenon, what I believe is happening is that information that has trouble traveling through inside channels, escapes and travels rapidly on the outside and re-enters the organization at another point; therefore leading to changes more readily. Where it looks like social media is driving the change, the fact is that social media is merely facilitating the change that is having trouble happening via internal processes.

My conclusion therefore is that organizations should embrace social media as a way to improve and move forward, as opposed to an enemy to be faced.

Presentations

If you do powerpoint presentations and you haven’t seen this one, look at it now.

Vanity Notice

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I am an avid listener of the For Immediate Release podcast by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. I posted a comment on their show blog last week, which they read on Monday’s show. Not quite 15 minutes of fame, but I will take what I can get. Scan to 49:20 in the podcast to hear my “brilliant” comment.

And, by the way Neville, it was Lee not Michael.   🙂

And also, if you actually happen to listen to the comment, I am not an employee of SocialText , just a fan

Cars and Horses

The other day I was watching an old John Wayne movie, Big Jake. I one of the early scenes there is a cultural clash between the new-fangled automobile and the tried and true mode of transportation, the horse and mule. Of course in the movie big John is the horse rider and those in the cars are made to look the fools.

It got me to thinking, is Enterprise 2.0 the “new-fangled automobile” when compared to the tried and true “horses” of traditional IT platforms, with Microsoft and IBM in the role of “Big Jake”?

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Funny, I don’t see many people riding their horses to work these days.

Enterprise 2.0 and The Innovator’s Dilemma

From the Headshift blog, I found this fascinating perspective on how many (most) large organization IT departments look at Enterprise 2.0.

 Behind “Enterprise 2.0” Performance: Exploitation or Exploration?

My favorite quote is:

At the same time, Microsoft, IBM and likes currently are wondering what to do with social computing. They take a lot of time to market relevant and powerful solutions. Most of the time they revamp old appliances, brand them as 2.0 and full stop. They only satisfy people who are not in the know. They create dissatisfaction among employees. They favour both brainwash and brain drain so that you don’t get the best employees. They cost time, resource and money. Overall, they jeopardize corporate performance. So it might be time to consider open-up your information ecosystem to real innovation by adopting products marketed by start-ups or crafted by value-added consultancies.

This is a huge paradigm shift for most organizations. Is it the right way to go? Hmmm…

I think anyone in this situation needs to read Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma. Christensen points to the problems that entrenched organizations have when facing a significantly changing environment. Basically his answer is not to make a full stop radical change in direction, but to move into the new space through independant efforts that are not beholden to the existing power structure, and most importantly not financed by the same budget system. Often the new paradigm has different rules and metrics and using the old measures to evaluate the new environment will never predict an “reasonable ROI”, at least until it is so late in the game that you missed the wave and are playing catch-up.

 If you are in this situation, read the book, you will not be sorry.

Friction…Cost…Hmmm…

I just read the R/W/Web post titled Creative Entrepreneurs: The Next Masters of the Universe. The concluding paragraph says:

A big reason that power is shifting to creative people is the reduction in inter-company friction. You can outsource pretty much everything, other than creativity. More importantly, you can use multiple smaller, specialist vendors on something close to a level playing field relationship – rather than being dependent on one big company that does everything to get you to market. When you add in millions of new knowledge workers from what we used to call the emerging markets, you have a formula that keeps the prices down and terms for these services quite reasonable.

This sounds a lot like reducing the transaction costs to me.